The school website is a critical platform for communications. Whether it’s a parent, prospective student, or a local journalist looking for news about school life, keeping your website up to date is not only a means of shouting about your wonderful work, but it’s also essential for compliance.
Government standards on what a school website should include are nothing new. The current guidance was published way back in 2014, and has gone through numerous updates – including the publication of guidance specific to academies, free schools and colleges.
Most importantly, a website audit is carried out as part of every Ofsted inspection, and is usually the first thing the inspectors will look at. First impressions can count a great deal, so it’s crucial you’re confident that you can keep up.
The big question many schools ask themselves is how they can effectively achieve this, without a hugely heavy admin burden while minimising risk.
Keeping Your Website Compliant
Staying up to date with the latest guidance can be tough, especially when you have so much good news and information to share about school life with your communities.
To start with the basics, your website needs to be technologically capable of handling large volumes of data and information throughout its lifespan.
On a day-to-day basis, however, it’s the administration of the website that is likely to pose a challenge.
It’s an undoubtedly time-consuming task. There is a lengthy list of information that your school site must contain, and you need to make sure that you’re factoring in time to update and review frequently.
But, by taking a few preparatory measures, you can ensure you’re in the best place possible to minimise admin times, and avoid any last minute rushes.
The first thing you need to ascertain is who is responsible for the overall maintenance and upkeep of your website. Perhaps it’s someone in your school office, or an external team, but identifying the person or persons responsible means that there is always someone on hand to review and highlight any updates necessary, as and when they are required.
Secondly, do your staff know what information needs to be shared? For instance, when it comes to curriculum data, are your teaching staff ready to share this information in the right format? Making sure everyone knows exactly what is expected of them, and when, will be a big help when it comes to a website audit.
What Happens if You Fall Behind
It’s natural to worry about what might happen if you’re not able to keep up with compliance changes, or necessary information updates. And while falling a little behind isn’t the end of the world, it’s important to keep in mind that doing so is likely to cause issues.
As we’ve already mentioned, your school website is often the first thing an Ofsted inspector will look at in the course of their inspections. They’ll be looking at how you use the site to communicate, but most importantly, they want to know how (and if!) you’re displaying all of the necessary compliance information – for instance, equality and SEND information, curriculum and exam data, and safeguarding measures.
If they can’t find the information they’re looking for, your school will be marked down, with a recommendation that the website is updated urgently.
And it’s not just Ofsted inspectors that will expect certain things from your website. Your students and their parents are very likely to have particular expectations of what they can find there.
First and foremost, they’ll want to know school hours and term dates, but they’ll also want access to things like learning resources, school newsletters, staff information, and exam and curriculum resources.
It’s worth keeping in mind that a website featuring outdated or incorrect information is more than likely going to result in parents calling into the school office or contacting staff more frequently for the answer to their questions – or worse, going off completely incorrect information without checking in at all.
Filling the Gaps in Your Infrastructure
Updating your school website might seem like a huge undertaking, but it doesn’t need to be a struggle.
At Eduprise, we work closely with schools all across the UK to keep their websites up to date and compliant. By monitoring any changes to government guidance and Ofsted processes, we ensure that the schools we work with are always a step ahead of the curve.
With internal registers and notifications when documents or policies are due to expire or be updated, our schools never miss a beat.
Find out more about how the team here at Eduprise can help your school, contact us today.